Disciple-Maker (spiritual mentor)

Several of us from the Barry had a Disciple-Maker (spiritual mentor) that lived in Jacksonville, a short distance from Mayport, the home port for our ship. She was a Catholic Charismatic and was not lacking in spiritual power. I will forever be indebted to that woman because she taught me and others from my ship about things that were vital for our spiritual growth. This woman may have leaned a little heavily towards spiritual gifts and demonic possession, but I would rather have had that than a cold lifeless discipleship lecture process that is so common.

Some might question how an older Roman Catholic woman could fill the role of a Disciple-Maker for a group of young Protestant men, seeing that Catholics have beliefs that are radically opposed to Protestantism. I have asked myself that same question many times, yet, though there are irreconcilable differences, we were able to find common ground, and it was those commonalities that enabled us to learn from her.

What Did She Teach Me?

She Taught Me How to Pray

Churches aren’t known for teaching new believers how to pray. Sure, they have an occasional class that may teach what the Bible says about prayer, but rarely do we take people aside in small groups and say, “listen and watch how I pray… now you do it.”

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Operating with the USS Barry in the Atlantic Ocean April 1979

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)
Operating with the USS Barry in the Atlantic Ocean
April 1979

She Taught Me How to Cast Out Demons

There were a few instances when I observed her doing this with a man from the Barry, as well as others from the Jacksonville area. This training became very valuable years later when I encountered demonic possession and other types of demonic manifestations.

She Taught Me How to Hear the Voice of God

During one of our Bible studies this lady stopped during her teaching, looked at me and said, “Chet, God has been trying to talk to you but you aren’t listening.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. I felt embarrassed because I thought that if God was trying to talk to me, I absolutely would want to have heard His voice! She told me that when I pray, I needed to stop the busyness in my mind, to still myself, and focus on Him and listen.

That night I went “home” to the Barry and after laying down in my bed, I began to focus on God in prayer. It took a lot of concentration because my mind is typically whirling around, continually thinking. After maybe 10 minutes of this silent focus on God, I had a thought come into my mind. It wasn’t an external voice. It wasn’t what I would describe as an inner voice speaking to me either. It was as if it was my own voice speaking to me, yet it said something that I would never say to myself, and it was: “Chet, I love you.”

I was startled at first, because I thought it was me, and I wondered why I would tell me that I loved myself. It was then that I realized that that was the voice of God, and for me, the voice of God is very subtle, and to hear Him, I need to stop the busyness in my mind, slow my pace, and relax in His presence, and listen deeply.

Will You Remember Me When You Become Well-Known?

During a prayer time together with a group of young men from my ship, my spiritual mentor stopped and shared what the Lord revealed to her about me. She said, “Will you remember me when you become well-known?”

After living five years in an restricted-access nation, among 3 million people who radically follow a different religion, with my wife and I being two of only five whites living in the entire region, and me being an introvert, I have had enough celebrity status to last me a life-time. I do not delight in being the center of attention, nor is becoming a celebrity or having fame an ambition of mine. Yet, over the years there have been a number of others that have prophesied similar to what my spiritual mentor said to me.

USS Barry & USS Sampson (DD-G 10) , conducting a small boat race in the Red Sea. August 1979

USS Barry & USS Sampson (DD-G 10)
conducting a small boat race in the Red Sea.
August 1979

My grandfather, at my infant dedication, prophesied that I would be known all over the world. During my ministry overseas, a national minister, who never saw me before, came up to me and said, “People all over the globe will hear of you.”

No matter if I become well-known all over the globe or not (it’s not a concern of mine), I will never forget those who invested their time into my life, laying a foundation for a lifetime of ministry.

Disciple-Makers

The absence of genuine and loving Disciple-Makers is possibly the greatest weakness in the Church of Jesus Christ. When there is an absence of people who will take young believers under their wing and give them continual guidance in their spiritual development, like what Jesus did with His disciples, its little wonder we are losing ground in the number of people who are following Him.

I’ve heard a number of pastors say that they deeply love the people the Lord has given them to shepherd, and while many of these pastors are very warm and loving—it is only from a distance.

Over the years there have been a few pastors I have asked why they don’t shepherd people, somewhat similar to how Jesus shepherded His 12 disciples. They almost unanimously replied that they can’t let people get too close to them, for if they do they will get stabbed in the back. Their reasoning is very logical, and is what often happens. In spite of such a risk, Jesus called twelve, knowing full well that one of them was a devil and would eventually stab Him in the back. Jesus allowed them all to get close to Him, to get very close.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’” (Jn. 6:70)

“But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’……… (Lk. 22:48)

We spiritual leaders need to take risks—just like Jesus, and genuinely develop those the Lord has placed under our care, in spite of the risk of having one person become a traitor. What is the tradeoff for taking such a risk? You will at least have 11 fully trained disciples—and that is enough to turn the world upside down!

“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” (Acts 17:6b)

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